Disbarred attorney charged with stealing $34,000 in funds (NY)

A Flushing man who was disbarred from the practice of law in New York State in 2007 has been charged with pilfering approximately $34,247 in purported legal fees and other expenses from a client couple who had hired him to handle the estate of a friend in 2012.

“Despite being disbarred five years earlier, the defendant allegedly continued to practice law and represent himself as a licensed attorney and thereby break the law,” said District Attorney Richard Brown.

The defendant is John Giordanella, 48, of 59th Avenue, who practiced law from 1990 until his disbarment. Giordanella was arraigned last week before Queens Criminal Court Judge Ernest Hart on a criminal complaint charging him with third-degree grand larceny and a violation of the judiciary law (practice of law by an attorney who has been disbarred, suspended or convicted of a felony).

Giordanella, who faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, was released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court on May 6.

According to the criminal charges, Giordanella had been hired by a Kew Garden Hills couple to handle the estate of a deceased friend. The estate was valued at approximately $130,000, and any money that remained after expenses was to be given to a convent. It is alleged that the couple, in hiring Giordanella, believed him to be a licensed attorney and were never told by the defendant that he had been disbarred.

According to the criminal complaint, the couple gave Giordanella six checks, totaling $34,247, for expenses such as securing bonds, estate taxes, expenses and a probate “fast track” fee between February 1, 2012, and December 31, 2012. Giordanella also allegedly demanded an additional $20,000 in order to secure a bond and $6,247 in order to pay estate taxes.

An investigation conducted by the Queens District Attorney’s Detective Bureau allegedly revealed that the six checks were deposited into bank accounts belonging to either Giordanella or his wife and that a review of a certified copy of the deceased’s last will and testament kept by the Bronx Surrogates Court provided that no executor “shall be required to file or furnish any bond, surety, or other security in any jurisdiction.”

Additionally, it was determined that the only activity for the deceased was the filing of her will on April 24, 2014, and that there were no fees required and no bonds requested.

Attribution:

Disbarred attorney charged with stealing $34,000 in funds
April 23, 2015
Queens Chronicle
http://www.qchron.com/editions/north/disbarred-attorney-charged-with-stealing-in-funds/article_3d7aecae-50c7-5e70-9a4a-d161ef243c04.html

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